What Everybody Ought to Know About Browsers

Why can’t I see my website or why isn’t displaying correctly?  One of the ways to troubleshoot this issue is to look at the browser.  Anyone who is online needs to know about browsers, upgrading and caching to get optimal web performance.

What is a browser?

Browser_Icons_Black_BackgroundA browser is software that accesses and displays pages and files on the web. Browsers require a connection to the Internet (through a modem, an Ethernet connection, or Wi-Fi). Popular web browsers include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome.

Search engines index all of the information on the web that relates to the words you type in-Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. If you are sitting in your car, a web browser is like the windshield that sees where you are going and the search engine is like the steering wheel to navigate you there. If you don’t know what browser you are using, click on this link to find out.

Think B.S.; browsers first and then search engines next when you look at something online.

Browsers Need to Be Upgraded

When a browser is current, you get many benefits including:

  • You’ll rarely, if ever, come across the message, “your browser cannot view this website”
  • Security issues get fixed automatically
  • It gets faster, meaning less time waiting for pages to load

When your browser suggests an upgrade, do it.  Your browser is meant to help you get a great online experience.  Now go out and upgrade your browser!

What About Cache?

Sometimes browsers slow computers down because it has saved too much information in the cache.  The first time you visit a site, the browser “saves” pieces of the site. Browsers can retrieve files stored in its cache faster than it can pull fresh files from a server.  If a page that a browser has cached is changed, the old, cached version will display.  Look for an option to delete cache or temporary files in your browser’s administrative settings.  Remember, after clearing the cache, refresh the page you are viewing so the browser grabs fresh files.

Review and Change Browser Settings

Go into your browser settings, usually in the upper right corner of your screen and review.

Add-ons: Prevent browsers from installing add-ons such as plugins, ActiveX controls, toolbars and browser helper objects without a prompt.  Restrict add-ons to an absolute minimum in order to keep safe.  However, if your security vendor (or IT department) supplies add-ons for your browser, don’t disable them.

Autocomplete: The autocomplete or autofill feature stores information you recently typed, such as search terms, recently visited websites and your personal information (e.g., name, email, address, phone number). Using autocomplete for login information poses a big risk if your laptop or phone is lost or stolen.  It can give criminals access to  your accounts.

Content filters: When you are on a corporate network, you are probably have enough web security. But when you take a device off-site, such as at home or at a Wi-Fi hotspot, make sure you enable content filters on the browsers. Most popular browsers have a database of phishing and/or malware sites to provide protection from the most threats.

Cookies: Cybercriminals can exploit cookies. Turning them off is not a practical option, because sometimes you need to use them.  Check that your browser is blocking third-partycookies.

Popups: Popups can host hidden malware or lure users into clicking on something to harm your computer. For example, some popups look like Windows dialog boxes, and a click on the “X” to close the box can unleash a malware attack. Be sure your browser has popup blocking enabled and know the dangers of interacting with any kind of popup.

Now that you know a little about browsers, you can help your pages load faster, whether you are working or playing online.

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